Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Blue jay | Photo credit: Rob Hanson

Abundant throughout the central and eastern United States, as well as portions of Canada, the blue jay is a common sight. Once solely a resident of oak and pine forests, blue jays now inhabit wooded suburban areas and parks as well. Like other members of the Corvid family (such as black crows and ravens), blue jays tend to have a bold and mischievous temperament.

A varied vocalist, blue jays can create both piercing calls as well as more subdued, almost musical notes. The blue jay also employs some mimicry, reproducing the screeches of the red-shouldered hawk to deter other birds from its territory. Their diet consists of insects, acorns, fruits, seeds, and the eggs of other birds which it robs from the nests.

Blue jays are blue above with a collapsible blue crest, a white face and black “necklace” around their white neck, with a whitish-gray breast. The wings and tail are striped blue and black, with several bars of white on each wing.

In Texas, the blue jay is found in the northern and eastern regions of the state, including the Edwards Plateau and portions of South Texas. Parks such as Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Panhandle and Bastrop State Park in Bastrop, offer year-round viewing opportunities. Kerrville-Schreiner State Park holds potential for winter observation.